India deploys huge security for inauguration of world's biggest statue

India deploys huge security for inauguration of world's biggest statue

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday unveiled the world's tallest statue, the "Statue of Unity", built as a tribute to the freedom fighter icon Sardar Vallabhai Patel.

The statue is more than twice the size of New York's Statue of Liberty and also dwarfs the 128 metre (400 feet) high Spring Temple Buddha in China, the world's next-biggest statue.

Modi said that as the chief minister of Gujarat when he used to visit Kevadiya Colony, he used to look for a hillock from which Sardar's statue can be carved out.

Activists said about a dozen of their leaders had been detained before Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially opened the tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, with an air force jet flyover, helicopters showering flowers on the statue and fireworks in the green, orange and white national colours.

The statue, built at a cost of about Rs.3,000 crore, is located approximately 3.5 km downstream from the Sardar Sarovar Dam on a rocky island called Sadhu Bet on the banks of river Narmada. He had promised the project despite criticism that India couldn't afford to spend so much money on a statue. Media reports pointed out that locals tribal leaders have announced a boycott of Wednesday's event, saying, it is a mass destruction of the natural resources.

He said every decision of his government was being taken to ensure that the fruits of development reached the most vulnerable, without any corruption or favouritism, just as Sardar Patel would have wanted. His figure is not independently verifiable, but reports from the area and other observers suggest a large number of the tribal population from Gujarat and its neighbouring states are protesting.

He was also the India's first home minister after it gained its independence.

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Built by Larsen and Toubro, the Statue of Unity has been created to withstand winds of 180k/hour, akin to a category 3 storm, as well as 6.5 magnitude earthquakes.

"Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel worked for the unity of the nation".

But it won't remain the world's tallest statue for long.

The Prime Minister said Sardar Patel, a veteran administrator, had also popularised the idea of cooperative housing societies.

The project is facing opposition from local villagers in the region and from rival political parties.

The proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial, expected to be wrapped up in 2021, will stand at 212 metres.

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